Welcome to Daily Steps!
A weekly devotional message with daily scripture readings, prayer prompts, and action steps to help you spend time with Jesus and strengthen your relationship with Him.
Matthew 5:3 “What wealth is offered to you when you feel your spiritual poverty! For there is no charge to enter the realm of heaven’s kingdom." (TPT)
A Kingdom of Opposites
It’s no coincidence that wise sayings are often the opposite of what our human nature pushes us toward. This is a disturbing concept because none of us are comfortable with being reminded of our flaws and weaknesses — especially the ones that catch us by surprise or contradict the guidance being offered to us. Even more confusing is the overused and often misapplied advice that says the path to finding real happiness and enduring satisfaction begins by “following your heart.”
As both our Creator and Savior, Jesus was well-acquainted with the human heart. Because He knows us better than we know ourselves and He had the first-hand experience of walking in our shoes, Jesus never told anyone to follow his or her own heart. Instead, the wisdom and directions He gave were the opposite of what people expected or naturally craved to hear. Jesus knew that our hearts are — at their core — deceitful and often untrustworthy. This is why He continually gave instructions to His disciples that would help them lead their hearts, not follow them.
The Beatitudes, or the Sermon on the Mount, which is found in Matthew 5 are often viewed as a short list of “wise sayings" from Jesus. But these simple statements from Jesus are far more than a list of wise instructions — they are the keys to His kingdom. They, like so many other things He said, paint a clear, but very opposing world view to the one we live in. They encourage us to do the opposite of what our hearts naturally gravitate toward. Choosing to follow them isn’t only hard because doing so requires effort, consistency, patience, and humility, but primarily because they go against the very grain of how we’re wired to think. They show us how to bring His world — or His kingdom — to earth so that anyone living on it can catch a glimpse of what life should be like... a life that's lived for Him and by Him... a life that is starkly different than any we can attain on our own.
Daily Bible Readings
This week, as you go through the daily readings below, ask the Holy Spirit to make each of the Beatitudes deeply personal and applicable to you. (NOTE: We suggest you read each of these passages in several different versions of the Bible, including at least one paraphrase version.) As you contemplate these passages, make time to pray before and after you read them. In each reading, ask God to open up your heart and mind to His truth. Write down anything the Holy Spirit whispers to your soul. God’s Word is alive, so even if you’re familiar with these Scriptures, approach them with an expectant heart and an open mind.
Monday — Read Isaiah 66:2, Matthew 5:3-4, and 6:19-21. As you read these verses think about the connection between earthly wealth (i.e. money, power, fame, personal connections, etc.) and spiritual abundance. Preacher and author A.W. Tozer explains it this way: "The blessed ones who possess the Kingdom are they who have repudiated every external thing and have rooted from their hearts all sense of possessing. These are the 'poor in spirit.' They have reached an inward state paralleling the outward circumstances of the common beggar in the streets of Jerusalem. . . These blessed poor are no longer slaves to the tyranny of things. . . Though free from all sense of possessing, they yet possess all things. 'Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.'"
Tuesday —Read Psalm 63:1, Micah 6:7-8, Matthew 5:5-6, and Romans 12:1. Biblical scholar Matthew Henry said, "Meekness is calm confidence, settled assurance, and rest of the soul. It is the tranquil stillness of a soul that is at rest in Christ. It is the place of peace. Meekness springs from a heart of humility, radiating the fragrance of Christ." Ask the Holy Spirit to search the desires of your heart and to give you a hunger for Him that eclipses your own ambitions. Sit quietly and wait until you feel His presence.
Wednesday — Read Psalm 51:10, Matthew 5:7-8, Luke 6:35-36. Pastor Rick Warren said, "God’s mercy to us is the motivation for showing mercy to others. Remember, you will never be asked to forgive someone else more than God has forgiven you." If we long to know God, see God, and experience God, then we must be willing to let Him transform us little by little, day by day. As you go through your day, ask God to cleanse and purify your motives and priorities so that you can become more merciful to others. Write down anything you sense that He's asking you to change.
Thursday — Read Matthew 5:9, 1 Timothy 2:1-2, and James 3:17-18. Pastor and author Tim Keller defines Biblical peace, or shalom, as “complete reconciliation, a state of the fullest flourishing in every dimension — physical, emotional, social, and spiritual — because all relationships are right, perfect, and filled with joy.” Shalom is what we are to strive for in every relationship, every situation, and within our hearts. What areas of your life are most in need of peace? Who in your life is desperate for peace? While its coming may take weeks, months, or years of work, prayer, and patience, Jesus says that peace is the most visible sign that we are children of God. Select a word or phrase from today's Scripture readings on which to meditate and ask Jesus to bring to fruition in your life.
Friday — Read Proverbs 25:21, Matthew 5:10-11, and Matthew 5:44-45. Author C.S. Lewis said, "To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you." When someone hurts you it's only natural to want to hurt them in return, avoid them, or talk badly about them to others. Whether what they did against you is relatively small or horribly evil, the Holy Spirit can give you the courage and strength to offer forgiveness and mean it. Arguably one of the most difficult of Jesus' instructions, but also one of the most freeing, extending forgiveness to yourself and others is one of the boldest and clearest ways to radiate Jesus in a dark and oppressive world.
TAKE YOUR NEXT STEP
Grow closer to God each day and explore what it means to be a part of bringing the Kingdom of Heaven down to earth.
Want to Go Even Further?
If you are not already using our weekly study guide with your community group or family members, you're missing out on thought-provoking questions for discussion or individual study.
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